By Victor Kanayo
An athlete and boxer representing team Imo State, Mr. Chukwuemeka Igboanogo, Monday, died in the boxing ring at the ongoing National Sports Festival (NSF) holding in Asaba, Delta State capital in Nigeria.
NSF is the Nigeria’s version of Olympic Games. It takes place every two years.
An eyewitness account captured by Heritage Times HT revealed, “the boxer received a punch in his chin and the referee had to stop the fight when he failed to recover,”
Accoding to him, “he was immediately rushed out of the ring for medical treatment and there after taken to the hospital where he was confirmed dead.”
The state’s Commissioner for Information, Mr Charles Aniagwu, who confirmed the death said Delta State Government will unravel what led to the death of the young boxer.
According Aniagwu, “You cannot say exactly what Lead to the death until an autopsy is carried out and the report known. It is unfortunate that such happened to one of the participants.”
But, aside what befell the Imo contingent, they vowed to make sure they put the news of the untimely death of their colleague behind them.
A table tennis player who does not want his name mentioned said the news came to them as a rude shock, considering that the boxer was an easy going man.
He said the deceased “came with the intention to win gold but the unexpected has happened. We lost him but we will not allow that to weaken our spirit. We shall continue to pray for his soul and talk to our state government to assist the family considering that he died when representing the state.”
The ongoing sports festival has been dogged in several controversies amidst lack of necessary organisational input with athletes and officials wailing daily over sub-standard facilities in hostels and competition venues.
The sporting events have been marred by untold hardships suffered by athletes at various camp sites.
The worst hit are athletes camped at a suburb of Asaba, where there is currently no water.
Confirming this a top official from one of the states Ibitoye Shittu stated, “The athletes, after a thorough and busy day, would have to wake up in the morning and start walking around looking for water.
“A serious shortage of water has made cleaning, washing, and bathing difficult for athletes from the states listed above.
“The environment at the camp is not even conducive for the athletes, as there is a high tendency of them contracting infections.
“Interestingly, athletes also enjoy only two hours of electricity in a day at their camp, in what can be described as a tough situation for those who are the primary actors of the festival.
“Annoyingly, there are also not enough vehicles at the Issele-Uku camp, as athletes would have to engage themselves in serious tussles before boarding to Asaba.
“As of Monday morning, some athletes sustained minor injuries while trying to board the limited available vehicles that will convey them to Asaba, which is an hour’s journey.
“Two Kwara athletes have already fallen sick due to the serious stress in camp, and this will definitely affect their performances in the games.
“It can be said that the Delta has been a bad host for this year’s National Sports Festival as they are being nonchalant about the welfare of the athletes in Issele-Uku.”
Also, youth sports commissioner in Ogun state, Oluwadare Kehinde, has raised complaints over what he described as poor accommodation, feeding and transportation for athletes at the ongoing 21st edition of the NSF.
He said, “I am only on-ground to do an assessment even though there are one or two complaints, I think I will report to the appropriate authorities so that they can find solutions to these challenges we are encountering.
“The challenges are not personal; some of them are accommodation issue, feeding and all that. Some have to do with delay of transportation.
In a related development, the Executive Chairman, Kwara Sports Commission, Bola Magaji, has lamented that Delta, the host state of did not demonstrate the readiness to host the mega sports show.
Mogaji said “I was just discussing with my friends that Delta was not ready for this festival.
“In the area of facilities, they were not impressive at all; also in the area area of accommodation, which is most important, they are not ready as well.”